When you are getting ready to paint a room, a window sill, a door frame or maybe even your latest art project, you go through the steps. First, you try to find that perfect color and tape all of those swatches up and around your room. You look at them in the morning, and in the evening light. You ask yourself or your partner or friend, which color is best? And finally you choose that perfect color.
Next, you head to the store to get your paint supplies. Drop cloth, angled paint brush to do your edging, painters tape, roller and roller refills. But are you thinking about the proper protective mask for the job?
Most paints, whether they say they are VOC-free or not, have paint fumes that are present right from the moment you crack that paint lid.
It's the reason we like to paint with the windows open and fans going. But once you are in that room and are in the middle of painting, that smell seems to disappear. But what really happens, is that our olfactory response is simply sensitized to the smell. It becomes normal, and you don't notice it again until you walk outside then walk back in.
If this is at all familiar, you are not alone. In fact, most people don't know that they should be wearing a proper paint respirator mask to protect you from those harmful fumes entering the body.
According to the National Library Of Medicine, "The basic components of paints vary widely in terms of chemical composition, depending on the color, the durability, and other required properties of the paint". They go on to list, in a paper, all of the main substances and classes of chemicals that are present in paints (and there are a lot of chemicals listed there, in alphabetical order).
According to the International Enviroguard's Safety Tips To Minimize Exposure To Paint Fumes [...] "The keys to minimizing VOC and carcinogen inhalation are generally adequate ventilation and respiratory protection". But what do you look for when trying to find the best respirator for painting? What does it have to be rated? What does it need to filter? What are VOC's?
According the the United States Environmental Protection Agency, VOC's (or volatile organic compounds) are "[...] compounds that have a high vapor pressure and low water solubility. Many VOCs are human-made chemicals that are used and produced in the manufacture of paints, pharmaceuticals, and refrigerants. [...] Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in household products. Paints, varnishes, and wax all contain organic solvents, as do many cleaning, disinfecting, cosmetic, degreasing, and hobby products".
So how important is it to filter these chemicals from our lungs when painting? We are going to explore that question and answer it below.
When researching the best respirator for painting, spray painting, or simply a painting mask for the small paint jobs you want to do, there are a number of factors to take into consideration.
For filters on a respirator to have an N95 or equivalent rating, that means that they will block at least 95% of airborne particles.
A lot of the chemicals that are present in uncured paint need to be able to be filtered through the respirator filters.
When looking for the best mask for painting and spray painting, you are going to want to see the list of what the filters on the mask will protect you from.
One mask should really fit all and should be able to be easily adjusted so that it makes the proper seal around your face. You will know it has properly sealed if you place the palms of your hands over the filters and find that you can't breathe any air in; all of the air coming in should only be through the filters.
If there is any air coming in when you have your palms covering the filters, then you are either not wearing the mask correctly and it needs readjustment, or the mask itself is not making a good seal around your face. A quality paint respirator will make that seal around your face and will protect you from those paint fumes.
Yes, we use the term "as comfortable as possible" here. It is hard to find a mask that you can wear for extended periods of time and truly be comfortable with.
Softer plastics or silicones are excellent around delicate areas like the nose and they help. The weight of your mask will also dictate a certain level of comfort as well.
You just don't want to be uncomfortable to the point where you find you need to take a break from your paint respirator. That totally negates the entire point of wearing the face mask; you shouldn't have to take it off for your painting project.
You should be able to wear your respirator mask for the entirety of the project or until your designated break.
Respirator filters will only work for so long until they become so full of particulate matter that they will need replacing. Think of them like the filters in your furnace. Once they get full, it is difficult for them to do the job of keeping harmful chemicals out of your respiratory system. Once the filters are full, then you are inhaling paint fumes.
So when you want to purchase a good mask, make sure to see if the company offers separate replaceable filters for that specific mask. Check if you can order them easily down the road from the company you are purchasing your paint respirator mask from (or order a second set of filters with your mask right away).
This is something to think about when purchasing your mask, because really it is a matter of preference. Do you want to get a full face respirator or a half face respirator? Here's the difference:
A full face respirator will have the filters to protect your respiratory system, but it will also be part of a full face shield as a single, solid unit. A full face respirator is great if you find that the chemicals you are working with may bother your eyes, or if you are in a very dusty area and don't want to get airborne particles into your eyes.
A full face respirator will also shield your eyes from any spray back from droplets or liquids you may be working with. If you are looking for the best spray paint mask, this would be the option you would definitely want to go with as tiny airborne droplets will be floating around and may find their way to your eyes.
Half face respirators (also known as a half mask) are for nose, mouth and respiratory protection only. A half mask respirator does not come with the face shield that full face respirators have. You may want to get a half mask if you are not worried about anything getting in or bothering your eyes.
You may also be thinking of a half face respirator if you wear glasses; however, there are options out there for eye protection even if you do wear glasses, and we will also cover that point below.
Disposable masks will do the job if they all have the proper protections in place we listed above (filters 95% of the particles, seals around the face, blocks any other air that is coming in that is not through the filters, seals around the face...etc). However, disposable masks are just that. A one time use if it does properly protect you, and then it is thrown away.
Now that we have talked about everything you need when looking for a respirator mask for painting, which masks will work?
Parcil Safety offers several full face respirator masks that will properly filter out the airborne chemicals that would otherwise affect your respiratory system.
The filters with the PD-100 and the PD-101 have the same filtration capabilities, however, the PD-101 offers move versatility because of the other available filter options that can be fit onto it.
The PD-100 respirators come with the P-A-1 organic vapor and particulate filters which are a proprietary filter design. The PD-100 comes with one set of these P-A-1 filters, which are independently tested to protect against organic vapors and 95% of particulates down to 0.3 microns.
As a full face respirator, it has a face shield which offers eye protection from dust particles, gasses, toxic fumes and airborne liquid particles (example, from spray paint). The face shield is also scratch and stain-resistant.
The respirator makes a tight seal around the face, and there is a 5 point auto-lock harness system where you can easily adjust it with one pull on each. The rubber around the face is smooth which reduces pulling against the hair or skin, and the nasal/oral cup and face seal are lined with soft, natural rubber to sit comfortably on the user and maintain an airtight seal.
The equivalent half face mask to the PD-100 is the T-60 half mask respirator. It offers all of the exact same above essential respiratory protection, but without the face shield to protect the eyes.
As mentioned above, the PD-101 have the same filtration capabilities as the PD-100 paint respirator, and it is made in the exact same with the seal, the 5 point harness system and the soft rubber.
However, the difference with the PD-101 is that these respirators are bayonet-style, meaning, the filters are attached in a specific way. You can purchase and attach other filters for different jobs you may need these masks for, and those other filters may have greater filtering capabilities for these respirators like the MaxPro P-3-0, KN-100, and ParticulatePro P-3-P.
Both of these filters would be great for sanding or filing down items.
So if you think you want a mask and will use it for many other purposes, then the PD-101 may be for you. Just note that when you purchase it, it automatically comes with the same filter capabilities as the PD-100, you can buy additional filters at checkout or later down the road when and if they are needed.
Again, if you want a half face respirator with the same capabilities as the PD-101 with the bayonet-style filters you can interchange with different filters from Parcil, then the T-61 is the half face respirator you are going to want.
If you are looking for the best painting mask, both the PD-100 and the PD-101 will be perfect for painting right out of the box with the filters that are included. And these are the best respirators for spray painting and any painting work you plan on doing.
*If you want to purchase either of these masks for painting, be sure to get them right from the company.
When purchased directly from Parcil, they come with a 1 year manufacturer warranty. They also offer a 30 day return as well as free shipping.
Also beware of knock off masks who might be posing as these ones.
You can also purchase storage bags for your masks and other accessories from Parcil as well.
Paint respirator masks are so important and many people are not aware of this. Whether you are painting your walls or you are using spray paint on outdoor furniture, cabinets or for a creative project, a spray paint respirator or paint respirator is an essential part of your personal protective equipment that should always be included.
We hope you found this article helpful in learning what to look for in the best respirators for paint or the best respirator for spray paint! Of course, don't forget your other personal protection equipment.
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Have a creative day.
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